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But it seemed to work. In most cases, he could help people come to a solution—one that left their dignity intact. “I had no trouble getting clients,” he said. “People often came against the advice of lawyers. They wanted somebody who was going to be different.” Eventually, he and other colleagues helped invent the field of conflict mediation—which is now popular worldwide.

That’s how it came to pass that Gary Friedman, at age 71, drove his forest-green Mini Cooper to the county elections office and filed the paperwork. He ran for a five-year term on his local Community Services District Board of Directors, a five-member council in charge of area roads and water management. He promised a new way of doing politics. “I am committed to bringing a tone of respect, enthusiasm and openness,” he wrote in his candidate statement.

Thus began one of the greatest trials of his life. It took “about an eighth of a second” for him to get sucked into the conflict, as he puts it. Despite everything he knew, he ultimately lost two years of his life and peace of mind to petty political feuds—a period he now calls his “personal derangement.”

In the process, one of the nation’s leading gurus of conflict management fell into the same traps he’d taught thousands of people to avoid, the kind that make conflict destructive, instead of useful.

“I became defensive,” he says sadly, as if describing a descent into addiction. “I became aggressive. I became strategic.”

Politics, it turned out, was harder than he’d ever imagined.

“I was never thrilled with the way politicians behave,” Gary said, “but I do have much more of appreciation now of how easy it is to get caught.”

Winning

The tiny, fogged-in village of Muir Beach (pop. 250) is only 20 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge, yet it feels like a secret—a velvet slip of sand, nestled up against Muir Woods, surrounded entirely by national park land. Over their 40 years in Muir Beach, Friedman and his wife Trish raised four children in the community.

“Muir Beach is magic,” Gary said, speaking before his neighbors at the candidates’ debate in September 2015. “That was the first thought that my wife, Trish, and I had when we first saw it. And that’s why we moved here.”

Friedman and the other candidates were seated in a row behind a long table. The windows behind them overlooked the town playground and beyond it, the vast ocean.

That night, Friedman seemed like a new model of politician, the kind he’d always wanted to see. His face lit up when he talked about the beach and his grandkids. He was quick to laugh at himself. When other people talked, he listened in ways that made them feel heard. He said he wanted to reinvigorate democracy in the town.

“This is a chance for a real change,” he said, “for everybody to be involved.” When someone asked about his experience managing water, Gary responded honestly. “I don’t know that much about water, but I know I can learn,” he said, his wavy white hair blowing in the sea breeze.

This was not what politicians were supposed to say; that was why he said it. Friedman seemed to take pleasure in breaking the political mold, in proving that there was another way to do politics.

A neighbor named Tanya volunteered to be his political adviser. (At Friedman’s request, I’ve changed the names of the neighbors involved in this story to protect their privacy. The names of Friedman and his family are unchanged.) Born into a family of politicians, she’d spent her career as a labor organizer. So it came naturally to her to draft talking points and a strategic plan for Friedman’s campaign. She upped his game, making it more like a traditional political campaign. “We knocked on all the doors three times,” she told me. “That had never been done before.”

With Tanya’s advice, Friedman adopted the campaign slogan, “Do you want to move forward or backwards?” Tanya talked a lot about winning. Soon Friedman did, too. Privately, he started referring to himself and his allies as the “New Guard.” They were the change agents, the upstarts. And the others, the ones who had been in charge for years? They were the “Old Guard.”

One member of the so-called Old Guard, a man named Hugh, had been Friedman’s neighbor for 23 years by this point. He’d actually hired Friedman to mediate a property dispute with another neighbor, years before. So Hugh had thought, initially, that Friedman would be the ideal person to serve on the board. “There’s nobody I would’ve trusted more with this job,” he told me.

On Election Day, the county posted the results online at 11 p.m. Gary received far more votes than any other candidate. “We killed them,” Tanya said. One member of the Old Guard, who had held office for nearly three decades, got ousted.

“It was all very exciting,” Friedman recalled. “I felt heroic, righteous.”

On February 3, 2016, Friedman presided over his inaugural meeting as president of the board. He introduced a new set of rules, called the “Principles of Unity.” He posted the principles on the wall of the community center, where the board met.

“Be respectful of others.”

“One person speaks at a time.”

“No name calling.”

“No eyeball rolling.”

During the public comment period, each person would be limited to just three minutes of speaking, according to the principles. This way, he reasoned, the gadflies who had rambled on at past board meetings would not be able to hijack the conversation; there would be space for more voices to be heard.

There were other changes, too. Under Friedman’s leadership, there were no more bowls of snacks, no more time set aside for socializing. People could do that on their own time, he figured.

He also established volunteer subcommittees, open to any and all, in hopes of bringing more residents into governing the town—just the way he’d brought the full ensemble of musicians into the room in his work with the San Francisco Symphony. There was a subcommittee for community engagement, for audits, for trails, for roads, for everything that might matter to the residents.

He was doing what he’d promised—infusing local politics with new energy and decency. His allies loved the new rules. But some people made jokes. They called the new rules “Gary’s psycho-babble,” and they rolled their eyes, violating multiple Principles of Unity at once.

The Danger of the Binary

“In conflict, the instinct to defend why we are right and the other is wrong is as old as it is pervasive,” Friedman and his co-author Jack Himmelstein wrote in their 2008 book Challenging Conflict. But this binary mode of thinking, they explained, is a conflict trap. “The right-wrong framework is simply too shallow and confining.”

But American politics, by its very nature, sorts people into binary categories: Right versus wrong. Democrats versus Republicans. And, in Gary’s case: Old Guard versus New. There are, all of a sudden, two sides, and everyone must choose.

“Overcategorization is perhaps the commonest trick of the human mind,” psychologist Gordon Allport wrote in his classic book, The Nature of Prejudice. It takes shockingly little for group biases or favoritism to emerge. It’s not for nothing that the word category comes from the Greek word for “accusation.”

In real life, most people have complex, ambivalent feelings about things like immigration, abortion, racial justice or policing. Their knowledge is uneven, and their opinions are manifold. “In very few conflicts is one side totally right and the other completely wrong,” Friedman and his co-author wrote in Challenging Conflict.

But even as he cruised to victory, heralding the advent of a New Guard, Friedman was falling into the same trap he’d identified.

Dividing his neighbors into an us and a them was motivating for Friedman and his allies, but the usefulness of the categories began to decay the moment the election results come in—when the governing began. At that point, people needed to cooperate to get things done. But as Friedman knew from his years practicing law in courtrooms, the primal feelings generated by such a competition linger, long after the results have been decided.

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The feeling of winning can make the victorious side feel more aggressive, not less. Winning at just about anything, even a game of dominoes, tends to boost testosterone, researchers have found. In fact, to expect a politician to truly unite a community after winning a contested election is to utterly misunderstand human psychology.

Once Gary had won, the conflict mindset was almost certain to get worse, not better.

High Conflict

Before Friedman took office, Hugh (of the Old Guard) had spent four years on the board himself and then worked as the district manager, a hired position charged with carrying out the board’s decisions. He admits he didn’t always communicate everything to everyone. There were no subcommittees. But he prided himself on his efficiency. And he did try to create a sense of community. Each month, he brought coffee and snacks for everyone who showed up to the board meetings, and there were no time limits on talking.

Then Friedman took over. Within a year, he had created 23 subcommittees. Hugh still remembers the number. “Nothing got done,” Hugh says. A major roads project that Hugh had helped launched two years earlier ground to a halt. Gary very intentionally undid everything Hugh had done, at least in Hugh’s view.

At first, Hugh tried to go along with the new system. But when he tried to join the personnel subcommittee, he was told that Friedman did not want him on it.

“Gary felt that Muir Beach was too dependent on me.” He hadn’t even known there was a new water subcommittee until after it had been formed. “I felt a little put off,” Hugh said. “I felt like I had useful skills.”

Friedman had intended to make politics more inclusive, but he was excluding the Old Guard.

By summer, the board meetings were getting more tense. Hugh considered moving out of Muir Beach entirely. He told his grown children that he just didn’t like the feeling of the town anymore.

Friedman, meanwhile, spent more and more energy enforcing the Principles of Unity.

“I really hope to hold people to our three-minute limit tonight,” he told the spectators as he opened up the June meeting.

When one person tried to ask a question about a different subject, Friedman cut him off. “Not tonight,” he said.

The man raised his voice. “Well, I’m not going to leave here until I get a chance to publicly comment.”

“Well, you can stay all night,” Friedman said, “but we’re not going to address it.”

Later that night, when Friedman came home, he encountered more pushback—this time from his wife, Trish. He was cutting people off, hurting people’s feelings, she told him. “You are running these meetings so tightly. It’s all about the time limit,” she said.

Friedman defended himself. The Old Guard had been sending their minions to the meetings to obstruct change and criticize every initiative, he told her. He’d intended the subcommittees to represent democracy, inclusion, and fresh ideas. The Old Guard saw bureaucracy: wasteful and unnecessary. Everything he did, it seemed, was met with new aggression and derision. Trish did not seem to appreciate that he was under attack, no matter how many times he tried to explain, using that specific word, “attack.”

It was around this time that Friedman and his allies proposed doubling the water rates in the town. It was, in Friedman’s view, a matter of facing facts. Muir Beach hadn’t raised its water rates in seven years, even though water management costs had increased.

But the Old Guard, already feeling rejected and rebuffed, erupted in outrage. They reminded everyone that Friedman had said he knew nothing about water at the debate. How could they allow him to double the water rate?

“The rates don’t need to be increased by 100 percent,” Hugh said at a public meeting. “That’s like off-the-charts high.”

Friedman was arrogant, power hungry, or inept—or some combination of all three, his critics concluded. What else could explain his tendency to cut people off in meetings and create unnecessary rules? Hugh and other Old Guard members mounted a comeback campaign for the next election, in November 2017, further dividing the town. Friedman was not yet up for reelection, but his New Guard ally was, and the campaign got ugly fast.

“It felt like we were at war,” Friedman said. The community disagreements had morphed into high conflict: an all-consuming, larger-than-life, urgent fight. “I no longer had a sense of proportion about me and I lost myself.”

Friedman was prominent enough that he could have been lecturing around the world, writing more books, and taking on lucrative cases. Instead, he had chosen to devote a good part of his time to work—for free—to help his tiny town. Where was the gratitude?

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This feeling of being unappreciated, even rejected, by his neighbors was powerful. It felt like a kind of toxin. Why, he wondered, did it bother him so much?

“I feel like we have lost you.”

In his long career as a conflict mediator, Friedman had gotten comfortable with intense emotions. He’d come to see that blame was almost always a mask, covering up some kind of fear or vulnerability. So he’d learned to get very curious about his clients’ vitriol. What were they protecting, underneath the accusations? “The conflict is almost never about what it seems to be about,” he liked to say.

As Friedman knew, when people feel rejected or excluded, they can become more aggressive in response. Aggression restores a sense of control, if only temporarily. And by demonizing others, people who once felt rejected can feel better about themselves, like they are on the side of “good,” fighting “evil.” But of course, aggression tends to incite more aggression from the other side, like throwing jet fuel on a fire.

In Friedman’s case, he had been recruited to run for election as a savior, and he was received, at least by some, as a nag, buffoon or villain. The only rational way to make sense of it, without gutting his own sense of self, was to blame the Old Guard.

But ostracizing politicians typically backfires. Shame makes the opponent stronger. It cements the division, bringing the other side closer together in fear or anger.

By the summer of 2017, Trish started noticing that certain people would no longer make eye contact with her. “It made me really sad. It was painful,” she told me. “I became ‘Gary’s wife,’ and people didn’t like Gary.”

The conflict stalked her husband, too. He’d wake up at 2 in the morning, scheming up ways to force the Old Guard to finally and publicly admit that he was right and they were wrong. He’d replay meetings in his head, over and over.

Someone told him that Hugh had called Gary “Napoleonic.” It was outrageous, Friedman thought. The man who taught listening to thousands didn’t know how to listen? He confronted Hugh about it, but Hugh denied ever saying such a thing.

Friedman felt trapped. “The feeling of hatred coming at me is a nasty feeling,” he said. “Especially when you’re walking the dog, and you know people have said things about you that are not true, and you can’t counter them, because if you counter them, you’re giving life to them.”

At family gatherings, he couldn’t stop talking about the details of neighborhood disputes.

Friedman’s grown children tried to intervene.

“There is this kind of poison seeping into the house, causing you to lose sleep, and you just can’t see it,” his son told him. “I feel like we have lost you,” his daughter said.

An Attempted Coup

Friedman had barely called the meeting to order when a board member named Joel interrupted him. It was October 17, 2017, the last meeting before the election.

“I’m really disappointed, Gary, that there are three items that I asked you specifically to put on the agenda and that you very carefully decided you were not going to put on the agenda,” Joel said, his voice tight.

Friedman responded with forced collegiality. “I did, and thank you for your comments, and we can’t talk about them because they’re not on the agenda.”

It sounded like a theater of the absurd. Friedman had refused to put the items on the agenda, and so the board couldn’t talk about them— because they weren’t on the agenda.

“If we were going to talk about them, we’d have to give advance notice to the community by putting them on the agenda,” Friedman lectured, “so they’re not going to be on this agenda for tonight, which isn’t to say that they’re not important and legitimate to be discussed, and we’ll have the opportunity to put them on a future agenda.”

Another board member complained about her own issue being left off the agenda. Friedman persisted: “It’s not on the agenda.”

A spectator yelled out, “Make an exception!”

“Yeah!” another man shouted. Friedman was losing control of the meeting, and it had only just begun.

“Wait a minute, hold it! Hold it!” he shouted. “Please. Please. No, no, no, no. Hey, wait a minute, wait a minute. I’m running this meeting, I’m doing the best I can, please hold your comments.”

Then Joel did something Friedman hadn’t expected.

“I have completely lost confidence in your ability to serve as president of this board,” he declared. And he called for Friedman’s immediate removal. “And I am making a motion—”

Friedman interrupted him, sounding desperate: “You can’t make that motion. It’s not on the agenda.”

“It does not have to be on the agenda, Gary.”

Friedman was cornered. Just two years ago, in this very same space, he had talked about bringing the magic back to Muir Beach. His family had beamed back at him from the audience. Yet here he was, presiding over a parody of a town council meeting, on the verge of being thrown out of volunteer office in a tiny town no one had ever heard of.

“When conflict takes over, it creates its own reality,” Friedman and Himmelstein had written in Challenging Conflict. These were very fortunate people living in a literal paradise by the sea, arguing over small matters in the grand scheme of things. But that was irrelevant.

On Election Day, Friedman’s closest New Guard ally was voted out of office. It was Friedman’s worst nightmare. She was replaced by Hugh and another of Friedman’s fiercest Old Guard rivals. Friedman’s term didn’t end until 2021, but he had no clear allies left on the board. He would be removed as president and have no real power.

“I felt a deep sense of humiliation, pain and sadness,” he recalled. He considered resigning.

Disrupting the Conflict

On January 25, 2018, at 7:03 p.m., Friedman called to order the last meeting under his leadership. A fire crackled in the community center fireplace. People greeted one another. If you didn’t know better, it would have sounded almost convivial. One minute later, the board voted to replace Friedman as president with a member of the Old Guard. His marginalization was complete.

Then Friedman did something surprising. He voted with the Old Guard for the new president. Then, two minutes later, Hugh got nominated to be vice president. This time, Friedman seconded the nomination.

Friedman did all of this without much comment. Then he spent the next three hours trying to stay quiet and control the expression on his face. The meeting finally ended just before 10 o’clock, an hour later than Friedman would have ended it.

Electoral losses, like snowstorms or pandemics, can destabilize conflicts. There’s a moment when the system is disrupted, and in that moment, huge opportunity exists. For things to get better. Or much worse.

The election defeat gave Friedman just enough time and space to realize what had happened to him. How far he’d fallen from his own ideals.

Friedman decided to vote for the Old Guard that day, he said, not as an act of surrender but as a very intentional way to disrupt the conflict system. He realized that if he stayed on the board, he had to get out of the trap he was in. By voting for his enemies, he was intentionally changing the one pattern in the conflict system that he could control: his own. “Once I admitted that I was part of the problem, even though it’s really hard to do that, it’s actually liberating,” he said.

The new board got rid of Gary’s subcommittees. “I got Obama’d,” Gary said. The Old Guard was undoing almost everything he’d accomplished, just as Donald Trump was doing at the same time to Barack Obama’s legacy, 3,000 miles away in Washington. “They emasculated or reversed just about everything.”

Still, he had no interest in meekly complying with the new board just to reduce the conflict. He’d seen too many people do that in divorce mediations; it was always a mistake, one they regretted later. He didn’t even use the word “compromise” in his office. Compromise feels like a surrender. And Gary was no pacifist. He believed conflict made us better. Or it could. He’d seen it happen.

So he asked himself the same questions he asks divorcing couples: What’s behind that? Why is that important to me? What would it be like if I got what I wanted here?

There was a lot of noise in his head and plenty of blame to go around. But eventually he realized that what he’d wanted most of all was to help his neighbors understand one another, even when they disagreed, so they could make conflict useful and still solve the problems that could be solved. But pressuring people to adopt his worldview was never going to work. He had to return to what he knew from 40 years of mediating conflicts: “The kinds of changes that are significant don’t really come about by coercion. They come about through understanding, and understanding is hard won, and it requires patience.”

To get there, he had to take a long path. He resolved to blur the lines between the Old and New Guard. Every day, he did things to scramble the tendency of everyone involved (including himself) to see the world in binary terms. Some days he voted with one member of the Old Guard; other days he voted his own way. He tried to genuinely reconnect with people, one on one. “When I pass the people who most hate me, I smile at them,” he said. “I ask about their health. One’s mother just died, and I asked about it.”

The beauty of group identities is that there are so many of them, waiting to be lit up. No one is just a Democrat or a Republican, a white man or a Black man. We are also sports fans, churchgoers, pet owners or parents. So Gary tried to revive the other identities in his own mind—and in everyone else.

One day, after he accidentally left his gate open, one of the Old Guard called him up to let him know that his dog, Artie, had wandered up to their house. That felt promising.

Another change Friedman made was to rely less on Tanya, his political adviser, the one who had used words like “kill” and “beatdown” and “thugs.”

He appreciated Tanya’s help, and he knew she understood politics far better than he did. But he got into politics to do something different. “I don’t want to hold hostility in my heart for people,” he told her. “I don’t like living that way.”

They remained friends, but he turned to his wife for political advice instead. He routinely asked her for feedback: Was he too sharp? Too impatient? And she’d tell him.

This all took longer than he would have liked. To hold on to what mattered most, Friedman had to let go of a lot. But in the end, Friedman did help to heal politics in his town. The road got repaired. The water rate got raised. The tone of the meetings improved. The neighborhood made progress, without coming apart. He created what I’ve come to know as “good conflict,” and in that state, he got much more done. In his own way, he built a microcosm of what politics could look like—if it were designed to incentivize our better instincts in conflict, not our worst.

His five-year term just ended, and he has no plans to run again.

As part of her book research on conflict, the author took paid mediation training from Friedman and colleagues through his Center for Understanding in Conflict (which is how she learned about this story).


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Black Lives Matter thought they had Washington’s ear. Now they feel shut out.

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Now, leading Black activists say those issues aren’t getting the hearing they deserve.

“It was grassroots and base building organizations that put our issues at the forefront. That’s who delivered this win to the administration,” said Amara Enyia, policy director for the Movement for Black Lives. “At minimum, those folks should be given an audience.”

Part of the disconnect may be the cultural gap between activists — for whom justice is an absolute, but attainable ideal — and politicians, who deal with the messy realities of governing, forging compromise, and accepting incremental wins. Many BLM leaders, for instance, pushed to “defund” city police departments, only to find little appetite among lawmakers for what was widely seen as a politically suicidal position.

On Sunday, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) signaled that he was willing to water down qualified immunity, which currently shields officers from civil liability for misdeeds, in order to pass some sort of policing reform legislation.

“Well, I will never sacrifice good on the altar of perfect. I just won’t do that,” Clyburn told CNN. “I just won’t do that. … Sometimes you have to compromise.”

So while, at the outset of the new Congress, movement leaders stressed they wanted to play a role in enacting policy change, and insisted they weren’t interested in empty rhetoric or piecemeal reforms, they’re now reassessing that approach as frustration sets in.

Now, where there was once more momentum behind the push for sweeping systemic change, bureaucratic policy hurdles and political calculations have pushed activists with the Movement for Black Lives back to the sidelines.

While this has forced activists to refocus their efforts, they maintain that their organizing is multi-dimensional. And they’ve amassed a sizable war chest. The Black Lives Matter Global Network, armed with more than $90 million in fundraising following last summer’s protests, has channeled those funds into initiatives and campaigns. One, launched in February, targets police unions and police budgets–efforts that have the most heft at state and local levels.

They’ve also used that funding to publicize their assessment of Joe Biden’s performance as he passed the 100-day mark. A recent advertisement paid for by the Black Lives Matter Global Network, criticized the administration’s handling of police reform. The ad, which aired in Washington, D.C., for a limited time, specifically condemns what they see as Biden’s lack of action on the transfer of military equipment to law enforcement.

“We are the people who elected Biden,” the ad says. “It’s time he started acting like it.”

When asked for comment, a White House official did not specify where talks with movement leaders stand. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly explain the administration’s stance, said there is an “open and ongoing dialogue” between senior White House officials and leaders of the movement as well as with legacy civil rights organizations.

Movement leaders also met with members of Congress early in the planning stages for the Justice in Policing Act last summer and asked for a platform to outline the BREATHE Act, several activists said. However, even those they view as allies on the Hill — including Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), who is spearheading police reform discussions — were unwilling to diverge from the bill’s core tenets.

As members of Congress continue to hash out a bill to pass with enough Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, activists say they have not been included in any of those discussions.

Melina Abdullah, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and one of the movement’s first lead organizers, said movement leaders have not abandoned their national advocacy work.

She pointed to a number of allies in Congress like Bass with whom she and other leaders have had “critical conversations” in the past about the movement’s role in policymaking.

“One of the things we’re looking at moving forward is having a better relationship [with lawmakers],” Abdullah said. “So rather than lawmakers making laws without the input of a movement that gives traction to them, we want to do a better job of coordinating on the front end.”

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But complicating things is the fact that movement leaders stand vehemently against the Justice in Policing Act, which Congress drafted as a response to their protests. They argue that instead of holding officers accountable, the bill — which passed the House in March — actually gives more funds to law enforcement. Moreover, activists say, police de-escalation training, universal body cameras and data to track use of force, all provisions of the Justice in Policing Act, don’t go far enough.

The bill “requires that police be the fixers of their own problems,” said Karissa Lewis, national field director for the Movement for Black Lives. “And we know that that just has not been a successful strategy.”

Still, the Movement for Black Lives has come out in favor of some national policies that have implications for the work they do on the state level. Activists point to both the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act as critical to their work. If passed, the bills would curb a number of the provisions in state laws that limit access to the ballot.

Organizers said they were happy to hear Senate Majority Leader ´ say that he would like to pass a major voting rights bill by August, though it’s not clear how he would do so without reforming Senate rules.

And there are activists who are continuing their work locally. A national platform, they say, was never one of their chief goals. Following an unsuccessful effort to reallocate police funds in Minneapolis last summer, activists there say they’re doubling down on their push for more comprehensive public safety plans that give community members more power.

“We know the history of the failure, where we’re expecting [police] to reform themselves,” said D.A. Bullock, a lead organizer with the Minneapolis-based group Reclaim the Block. “We know that’s not possible. We’re looking to a more fundamental change in the way we do public safety.”

Nor do they see Derek Chauvin’s conviction as the final chapter following last year’s organizing against police violence and systemic racism under the umbrella of a “racial reckoning.”

“People are still asking this question of, ‘is anything coming?’ Yes, it’s coming. It’s happening on the local and state level,” said Maurice Mitchell, national director of the Working Families Party and lead organizer with the Movement for Black Lives.

Still, Mitchell added that he and other lead organizers feel they are “duty bound to ensure that [police reform] happens on the federal level.”

Mitchell called for Biden to issue more executive orders and make full use of the bully pulpit to pressure Congress to act quickly on criminal justice reform as discussions around the Justice in Policing Act seem unlikely to conclude in time for Biden’s May 25 consensus deadline.

Federal legislation, activists argue, should address the root causes of the issue: A system of law enforcement that disproportionately harms communities of color. And that means they’ll continue to push for a public safety overhaul — and lobby those members of Congress willing to hear them out.

“We’re not interested in easy solutions, and we’re not interested in nibbling around the edges,” Mitchell said. “This is an urgent and real crisis for us.”


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Palestinians, Israel trade new rocket fire and airstrikes

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In recent weeks, tension has been soaring in Jerusalem, marked by clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police in the walled Old City, located in east Jerusalem which Israel captured and annexed in the 1967 war.

One of the flashpoints in the Old City has been the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, the third holiest site of Islam and the holiest site of Judaism. Another driver of Palestinian anger has been the threatened eviction of Palestinian families from homes in an east Jerusalem neighborhood by Israeli settlers.

Monday was a long day of anger and deadly violence, laying bare Jerusalem’s deep divisions, even as Israel tried to celebrate its capture of the city’s eastern sector and its sensitive holy sites more than half a century ago. With dozens of rockets flying into Israel throughout the night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with top security officials and warned that the fighting could drag on, despite calls for calm from the U.S., Europe and elsewhere.

Hamas, the militant group ruling the Gaza Strip, fired dozens of rockets Monday evening, setting off air raid sirens as far as Jerusalem. The barrage came after Hamas had given Israel a deadline to withdraw forces from the Al-Aqsa compound.

By Tuesday morning, Hamas and other Gaza militants had fired more than 200 rockets. That included a barrage of six rockets that targeted Jerusalem, some 100 kilometers (60 miles) away. It set off air raid sirens throughout Jerusalem, and explosions could be heard in what was believed to be the first time the city had been targeted since a 2014 war.

There appeared to be some first signs of de-escalation in Jerusalem early Tuesday. Palestinian worshippers performed the dawn prayer at the mosque without confrontations as Israel apparently limited the presence of its police officers around the compound. Amateur videos showed dozens of faithful marching to the mosque and chanting “we sacrifice our blood, soul for Al-Aqsa.”

In Gaza, an Israeli drone strike killed a man in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis early Tuesday, according to local media reports. In another strike, a woman and two men were killed when a missile struck the upper floors of an apartment building in the Shati refugee camp on the edge of Gaza City, according to Gaza Health Ministry and rescue services.

Hamas’ armed wing said it intensified the rocket barrages following the airstrike on the house.

The Israeli military said it had carried out dozens of airstrikes across Gaza overnight, targeting what it said were Hamas military installations and operatives. It said a Hamas tunnel, rocket launchers and at least eight militants had been hit.

Dozens of rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. But one landed near a home on the outskirts of Jerusalem, causing light damage to the structure and sparking a brush fire nearby. In southern Israel, an Israeli man was lightly wounded after a missile struck a vehicle.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “terrorist organizations in Gaza have crossed a red line and attacked us with missiles in the outskirts of Jerusalem.”

He said fighting could continue for some time and that “”whoever attacks us will pay a heavy price,” he said, warning that the fighting could “continue for some time.”

Gaza health officials gave no further breakdowns on the casualties. At least 15 of the 22 deaths in Gaza were attributed to the airstrikes. Seven of the deaths were members of a single family, including three children, who died in a mysterious explosion in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun. It was not clear if the blast was caused by an Israeli airstrike or errant rocket. More than 100 Gazans were wounded in the airstrikes, the Health Ministry said.

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In a statement issued early Tuesday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the rocket attacks would continue until Israel stops “all scenes of terrorism and aggression in Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa mosque.”

Tensions at the site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount, have triggered repeated bouts of violence in the past.

In Monday’s unrest, Israeli police fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets in clashes with stone-throwing Palestinians at the compound.

More than a dozen tear gas canisters and stun grenades landed in the mosque as police and protesters faced off inside the walled compound that surrounds it, said an Associated Press photographer at the scene. Smoke rose in front of the mosque and the golden-domed shrine on the site, and rocks littered the nearby plaza. Inside one area of the compound, shoes and debris lay scattered over ornate carpets.

Over 600 Palestinians were hurt in Jerusalem alone, including more than 400 who required care at hospitals and clinics, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Palestinians and police reported renewed clashes late Monday. Israeli police also reported unrest in northern Israel, where Arab protesters burned tires and threw stones and fireworks at security forces. Police said 46 people were arrested.

Monday’s confrontations came after weeks of almost nightly clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police in the Old City of Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The month tends to be a time of heightened religious sensitivities.

Most recently, the tensions have been fueled by the planned eviction of dozens of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem, where Israeli settlers have waged a lengthy legal battle to take over properties.

Israel’s Supreme Court postponed a key ruling Monday in the case, citing the “circumstances.”

In Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price condemned “in the strongest terms” the rocket fire on Israel and called on all sides to calm the situation.

“More broadly, we’re deeply concerned about the situation in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including violent confrontations in Jerusalem,” he said. He said the U.S. would remain “fully engaged” and praised steps by Israel to cool things down, including the court delay in the eviction case.

In an apparent attempt to avoid further confrontation, Israeli authorities changed the planned route of a march by thousands of flag-waving nationalist Jews through the Muslim Quarter of the Old City to mark Jerusalem Day.

The annual festival is meant to celebrate Israel’s capture of east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war. But it is widely seen as a provocation because the route goes through the heart of Palestinian areas.


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Vatican warns U.S. bishops about rebuking Biden, other Catholic pols

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Ladaria, in his letter, said any new policy “requires that dialogue occurs in two stages: first among the bishops themselves, and then between bishops and Catholic pro-choice politicians within their jurisdictions.”

Even then, Ladaria advised, the bishops should seek unanimous support within their ranks for any national policy, lest it become “a source of discord rather than unity within the episcopate and the larger church in the United States.”

Ladaria made several other points that could complicate the plans of bishops pressing for tough action:

— He said any new statement should not be limited to Catholic political leaders but broadened to encompass all churchgoing Catholics in regard to their worthiness to receive Communion.

— He questioned the USCCB policy identifying abortion as “the preeminent” moral issue, saying it would be misleading if any new document “were to give the impression that abortion and euthanasia alone constitute the only grave matters of Catholic moral and social teaching that demand the fullest accountability on the part of Catholics.”

— He said that if the U.S. bishops pursue a new policy, they should confer with bishops’ conferences in other countries “both to learn from one another and to preserve unity in the universal church.”

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— He said any new policy could not override the authority of individual bishops to make decisions on who can receive Communion in their dioceses. Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., has made clear that Biden is welcome to receive Communion at churches in the archdiocese.

Among the leaders of the campaign to rebuke Biden is Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, who recently issued a pastoral letter arguing that Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should not receive Communion. A few days later, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego published an essay saying such an initiative “will bring tremendously destructive consequences.”

Ladaria’s letter was dated May 7. It was first reported Monday by Catholic News Service and the Jesuit magazine America.


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